Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dollar Drop Boosts Tourist Spending in U.S.

The price is right for foreign shoppers in the U.S. as the sagging dollar boosts their purchasing power on everything from jewelry to vitamins.
“When I come to New York, it feels like I am getting great deals,” said Molly Lewis, a 40-year-old nurse from Manchester,England, who spent an afternoon last week hunting down bargains on Louis Vuitton handbags in Manhattan. “Things are much cheaper here than back home.”
The British pound had climbed 13 percent against the U.S. dollar in the past year, along with gains in the euro and Canadian and Australian dollars. That’s given travelers a zest for spending, which may help U.S. retailers make up sales as budget-wary U.S. consumers stick to the sidelines. Travelers from abroad spent $8.9 billion on food, lodging, gifts and entertainment in the U.S. in February, up 7 percent from last year, according to the Department of Commerce.
The Mall of America, the biggest shopping center in the U.S. with 520 stores, is reporting a surge in international visitors, hitting retailers from Columbia Sportswear Co. (COLM) to Coach Inc. in search of American goods.
The dollar has weakened by about 4 percent this year, according to Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Currency Indices. The measure of 10 developed-nation currencies has fallen 15 percent in the past year amid concern the Federal Reserve’s accommodative monetary policy will debase the value of the dollar and spur inflation.